Afterschool Charisma #2 by Kumiko Suekane
This one didn’t seem to progress as well as I had hoped. A lot of stuff happened, mind you, but the plot didn’t move forward well or maybe I feel like this because the girls in at the school remain poorly developed and we were given rather pointless nude scenes.
Shiro has been assigned double duty. One, he has to babysit the mysterious head of the school, Mr. Rockwells. All we know of this man is he’s reckless, has adopted a young girl, the clones seem afraid of him and he obviously doesn’t care much for the clones he’s technically in charge of. He’s in town for the festival where the clones show off their yearly projects.
The other duty Shiro has is to babysit Mozart after his suicide attempt. It doesn’t help that he and Mozart dislike each other. Through this runs the almighty dolly sheep storyline where the clones have raised these stuffed dolls to near cult status as good luck charms since they have no family or god of their own. However, the dolls might be used for spying on them and the cult is taking a weird bent, trying to break with their originals’ lives. Joan is up first, guided by Rasputin to be ‘burnt at the stake’ symbolically (yet using a real stake and fire) to break Joan of Arc’s hold on Joan Clone’s future (oh nothing can go wrong here).
There is at least one group plotting to kill the clones. There seem to be many various subplots within the clones themselves. What they all seem to agree on is they do not want to be beholden to their originals’ lives no matter what their creators seem to want. This isn’t a bad manga but the girls need to either be less useless or go away and just have nothing but men. I’d rather that than poorly done women.
Grand Guignol Orchestra #1 by Kaori Yuki
I’ve read Angel Sanctuary (well part) and her Godchild/Cain series and now reading this, I have to wonder if this mangaka can do anything without cross-dressing or incest. We don’t have the latter (yet) but we do have cross-dressing galore. This doesn’t bother me and I have to admit, the idea of this manga is interesting. However, the characters need more depth but hopefully that will come in the future.
In this world, there is a virus that turns people into guignols after the guignol puppet from the early 1800’s. They become zombie like but killable with weapons and music can wipe them out wholesale. The queen’s orders are that any corpse that was a guignol must be burned and she has two orchestras, official and unofficial that travel the country rescuing the people from the guignols. Naturally, we are following the unofficial one (which has some problems with the rather heartless queen).
The leader of the pack is Lucille and yes Lucille is a beautiful dude who often dresses as a lady. For a while you aren’t really sure which he is since he goes back and forth between male and female clothing. He has a voice that can bring forth songs that will destroy guignols en masse. There is Gwindl the cellist and he’s very taciturn and we learn next to nothing about him other than he plays the cello and drives their hearse (which seems to be tardis like in its ability to hold stuff inside it) and there is Kohaku, violinist and resident gun lover shoot ‘em character.
The first and longer of the two story arcs is when the trio arrives in a town, guest of the duke only to be greeted by his lame son, Eles who hates them and music. As the story unfolds, the trio learns that Eles and his sister Celes played their mother’s piano which somehow summoned up a huge amount of the guignols, nearly wiping out their town and killing Celes. The story has a lot of twists and turns and not to ruin it let’s just say that at the end Eles goes with the trio to become their pianist.
The second story arc takes them to another town which isn’t too pleased to see them but the duke here is taken with Lucille’s beauty and Lucille plays along only to learn that was a huge mistake.
I like the storyline. The art is pretty. And with most of Kaori’s work, I end up feeling like a few panels were missing. There are some confusing parts. I liked it enough to go looking for the next in the series.
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
This was a younger YA that’s been popping up in my book list (age group ala Percy Jackson). It’s set in a medieval monastery which should tell you right off there isn’t much in the way of women in this and they would be inappropriate given the setting. The story revolves around young William, an orphan now being raised as a monastery servant. He was the only survivor of a mill fire that took his family and he has the Sight, i.e. can see the fae folk. About his only friends in Crowfield is Brother Snail, a monk with a bone disease where he’s curling in on himself and stiffing up and Peter, the mildly retarded lay brother.
It opens with Will finding a Hob with his foot stuck in a metal trap. Freeing the hob, Will rescues him, taking him to Brother Snail, the healer. Snail and he nurses the hob back to health forging a bond. The monastery, a very poor one, has just been paid a large sum of money to house Master Bone and his servant Shadlock but when he gets there they learn he is a leper.
Also he and Shadlock, along with Will for other reasons, are trying to work out the ‘curse.’ It turns out a century before an Angel was killed in the woods. The monks took a feather and buried it. Shadlock and Bone are both cursed by the Unseelie king. Bone was a human musician who had the favor of the Seelie queen and Shadlock was her warrior.
Will doesn’t really want to help the cold Shadlock but he has little choice. He is swept up in the search to find the angel but the Unseelie king kills them all.
I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. Will is engaging and the storytelling is well paced and exciting. It’s the first in a series (goodreads says it’s only a two part series but I could see the potential for more.) I will definitely be looking for the sequel.